Accounting for permafrost thaw

Nature in our climate budgets

Carbon released by thawing Arctic permafrost could be on par with continued emissions from the Unites States this century. But those emissions are still not being accounted for in global carbon budgets—the equivalent of leaving an entire country out of negotiations. This has potentially disastrous ramifications, and means we have to be even more ambitious in reducing other sources of greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Rapid Arctic warming and resulting permafrost thaw are already impacting local communities. Entire villages are facing extremely difficult decisions about where and how they can live in order to protect their communities as land subsides and erodes, threatening homes and infrastructure, and limiting access to supplies and freshwater. But most Arctic countries lack a framework for relocation aid and assistance, and Arctic Indigenous Peoples are often excluded from policymaking discussions.

In partnership with the Arctic Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School and the Alaska Institute for Justice, Woodwell launched the Permafrost Pathways project to address these issues.

At COP27, Woodwell’s Permafrost Pathways team is advocating to:

  1. Get the best available science on permafrost emissions accounted for in climate policy;
  2. Amplify Arctic Indigenous voices in negotiations regarding loss and damage, and climate adaptation.

Wed Nov 9, 15:00-16:30 EEST (8-9:30am ET). Woodwell and Global Choices side event – Intertwined Fates: How the Arctic, Amazon, and Africa are connected and shape our climate future. This event will be live streamed via the COP27 website and YouTube. Learn more.

Fri Nov 11, all day. Permafrost Day at the Cryosphere Pavilion.

Dr. Sue Natali, Arctic Program Director & Permafrost Pathways co-lead

Dr. Brendan Rogers, Associate Scientist & Permafrost Pathways co-lead

Dr. Rachael Treharne, Research Scientist and Policy Lead, Permafrost Pathways

Dr. Jennifer Francis, Senior Scientist, Arctic (not at COP27)